A Taste of Two Islands: Blackberry Jam and Lilikoi Custard

I was born in the land where palm trees sway, where the ocean feels like bath water, and the Goddess Laka set the thermostat to 27°C.  Anything hotter or colder would make the flowers unhappy.

Hawaii is the ultimate melting pot. Perhaps this is why its cuisine is so delicious or what the locals call ono. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, people from all over the world sailed to Hawaii’s sandy shores, each of them bringing the flavours of home.

Labourers were needed to work the sugarcane fields and pineapple plantations. Many came from Portugal, Puerto Rico, China, Japan, Korea, and the Philippines.  My paternal great-grandparents were among them.  My maternal family from Iowa came for different reasons.  Like the Blues brothers, they were on a mission from God.  Quite literally as my grandparents were Southern Baptist missionaries.

When my aunt and uncle lived in Hawaii Kai, they always had two things in their backyard–a stray ginger cat called Gus and an abundance of lilikoi. Lilikoi is what Hawaiians call passion fruit. They are red or yellow; the latter tend to be sharper and more acidic. You can add them to cream based desserts for a distinctly tropical note like I’ve done in this recipe here. 

Though I have long known that I enjoy eating lilikoi custard, it wasn’t until I moved to London that I realised how much I like it on buttermilk biscuits with blackberry jam. Bramble season in the UK is August through September. This is why I like to stock my freezer full of berries, so I can use them the whole year through.

Below are my recipes for lilikoi custard and a quick blackberry jam. Though the distance between Honolulu and London is 7,223 miles, I can bring their flavours closer together on a plate.

Ingredients for lilikoi custard:

300ml milk

100ml double cream

½ tsp vanilla bean paste

4 egg yolks

75 to 100g of caster sugar (depending on how sweet you like it and how tart your fruit is)

1 tbsp corn flour

3 to 4 lilikoi (3 fl oz. of juice and 2 tsp of processed seeds/pulp)

 

Method for the lilikoi custard:

First, put the lilkoi in a food processor and pulse. Strain the juice from the seeds. I like to do this with cheesecloth, but of course a fine mesh sieve will work.

In a saucepan, combine the cream and milk over a low heat. When small bubbles appear on the sides, remove it from the heat and stir in the vanilla.

In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until it looks like a fluffy paste.  Then incorporate the corn flour.  Whisk this mixture into the cream.  Add the passion fruit juice and 2 tsp of the seeds/pulp.

Place the saucepan back on a medium-low heat and continue whisking. When the custard thickens, remove it from the heat and set it aside. Once it has cooled a bit, cover it with plastic wrap. Make sure to press the clingfilm right against the custard, otherwise a skin will form. Put it in the refrigerator to chill completely. 

Lilikoi custard

Ingredients for quick blackberry jam:

300 g frozen blackberries

the juice of half a lemon and one small orange

120 g granulated sugar

 

Method for quick blackberry jam:

Put all the ingredients in a small saucepan. Warm them on low and stir until the sugar is all dissolved. When you can no longer feel any grains of sugar, turn up the heat. Bring the mixture to a boil. Allow it to simmer until reduced by half. You don’t want it too thick, just set enough that it won’t slide off your biscuit. When it is ready, pot the jam in a jar and allow it to cool to room temperature. Keep it in the refrigerator and use it within two weeks.

Quick blackberry jam

St. Clement’s Cake

I named this cake after the first church in the nursery rhyme as it’s bursting with oranges and lemons.  Or clementines and lemons to be exact.  It also contains blackberries because I’m desperate for summer.  I know it’s only February but I’ve met my quota on gray and gales and sideways rain.  I’m a California girl.  I long for sunshine.  And I will take it however I can.  These days that’s mostly on a plate.

As the above mentioned nursery song is a bit morbid, I’ll leave you with some Eileen Barton to bake with instead.

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar

the zest of a clementine as well as the zest of a lemon

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup olive oil (NOT virgin or extra virgin,  Just plain old olive oil.)

the juice of the lemon

the juice of the clementine

1 1/4 cups self-raising flour

3/4 cup ground almonds

1 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 large eggs

1 cup blackberries (I defrosted summer brambles I froze last summer)

oranges and lemons

Method:  Preheat oven to Gas4/350°F/180°C.  Grease your cake tin with butter and lightly dust it with flour.  Line the bottom with parchment.

Now get out 3 mixing bowls.

In the first bowl, combine the sugar, zests, and vanilla.

In the second bowl, combine the olive oil and the juices.

In the third bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Now add the eggs, one at a time, to the sugar mixture and beat on high until fluffy and pale yellow.

Then switch the speed to low and slowly pour in the olive oil mixture.  The mixture will look frothy.

Finally fold in the dry ingredients.

Pour 2/3 of the batter into the cake tin.

Scatter the berries evenly on top.

Pour the rest of the batter on top of that.

Bake for 45 minutes to an hour or until golden brown.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar and allow to cool.

Serve with Greek yogurt.

cooling cake

slice

The Fluffy Pancake Files

On Sunday, and quite by accident, I made the fluffiest pancakes ever.  I think the reason for this serendipity was because a) I was out of regular flour so I had to use self-rising and b) I added slightly whiffy cream to the recipe.  When some women feel experimental they drastically change their appearance, career, hometown or even add just one of 50 Shades of Grey to their bedroom.   When I feel experimental I add spoiled dairy to my pancake batter.  I’m crazy.  I know.  Well here I am to prosthelytize because the addition of that slightly whiffy cream was one of the best decisions I ever made in the kitchen.  The result was amazing(even better than my buttermilk pancakes).  Especially with my orange blackberry syrup.  If you fancy yourself a connoisseur of tasty, I recommend you make both.

Henry and Helena

Greedy Guts 1 and 2

don't talk with your mouth full

don’t talk with your mouth full

even caterpillar liked it

even caterpillar liked it

Ingredients:

for the pancakes:

2 large eggs

1 cup milk

1 cup cream that’s gone slightly off

4 tablespoons melted butter

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups self-raising flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons sugar

for the syrup:

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup fresh blackberries (or defrosted frozen ones and their juice)

the zest of 1/3 of an orange as well as the juice squeezed from that 1/3

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Method:

for the pancakes:

Combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a bowl and set aside.  Now, in a separate bowl, combine the eggs, milk, cream, butter, and vanilla.  Make a well in the middle of your dry ingredients and pour the wet ones into it.  Whisk to combine but don’t over whisk.  Let the mixture sit a spell.  At least half an hour.  I left mine overnight but that’s because I tend to prepare things well in advance knowing that when my toddler awakes she wants breakfast NOW.  Heat some vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat for a few minutes.  Let it get really hot but not so it’s smoking.  Pour some batter into the skillet.  Wait until it starts to bubble then flip.  Continue cooking another minute then remove.  Transfer the pancake to a serving platter and butter.  Repeat until the batter is gone.

pancakes with orange blackberry syrup

pancakes with orange blackberry syrup

for the syrup:

Heat a small saucepan over low heat.  Add the butter, berries, zest, juice, sugar, and vanilla.  Simmer but do not boil.  The sauce will thicken.  When desired viscosity has been achieved, remove the syrup from the stove.  Pour it into a warmed ceramic jug.  Now get ready for some pancakes and a nap!

Orange blackberry syrup

Orange blackberry syrup

Blackberry Cobbler

We all know the idiom “When life gives you lemons. . .”  That said, this summer has given us an abundance of blackberries.  Which is why I’m making cobbler.  Well that and because my friend, Miss Danielle Bell of de Porres, told me I should.  When I told her of the surfeit we had and asked whether I should make preserves or pies, she answered with a resounding “COBBLER!”  As her sentiment was strongly supported and echoed on my Facebook wall, I thought I better listen.  Below is the recipe I used this evening based on her instructions.  Let me tell you she is a lady whose word is to be heeded.

Ingredients:

1/2 recipe of Only the Best Brisée Ever

4 cups of blackberries

the zest of 2 small lemons and part of your knuckles if you’re not careful like me (Here’s my public service announcement:  Do not drink and zest.)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract

1/2 cup Demerara sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

freshly grated nutmeg (I only went the length of the grater 4 times.  Just enough for a little exotic dust.)

egg wash

Method:

Preheat your oven to 450F/230C/Gas 8.

In a large bowl, mix all your ingredients together except for the berries.  Those you will gently stir in and coat once everything else has combined.  Otherwise, you’ll beat your berries to a pulp.  You don’t want that.

nutmeg

berry mixture

Set the bowl aside.

Divide your dough into three sections.  Two of equal size and small one for rolling cut outs you’ll put on top.

Roll the first piece so it’s large enough to line the bottom of your dish.

1st layer

Spoon a layer of fruit on top of that.

2nd layer

Now do another layer of dough followed by another layer of fruit.  After that, place your cut outs on top and brush with the egg wash.

cut outs with egg wash

Bake for 20 minutes then turn down the heat to 375F/190C/Gas 5.  Continue baking for another 45 minutes or until golden brown and bubbling.

finished cobbler

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or Greek yogurt.